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In conversation with Socrates… Part II

May 31, 2009 Leave a comment

We are in conversation with Mr. Socrates the highly controversial figure of Greek Civilization who braves the paparazzi day in and out.

Mr. Historian: Mr. Socrates, we agreed on the dynamic unfaltering spirits of Greeks, but all this intellect and passion for life didn’t stop Greeks to fight amongst themselves! The two city-states of Athena and Sparta fought for 27 years. How can you justify that?

Mr. Socrates: The war, which broke out in 431, B C had its origin in rivalry, which started long before. Athens and Sparta both came up as major city-states of Greek in 6 th Century BC It was a time when survival was far more important than anything else. Man had very recently left the nomadic ways of life and was learning to live together. Athens and Sparta were no different and any threat to survival often led to clashes.

Also, though both had same ancestors, ideology of any two cities could not be more opposite. Where Sparta was a pure military ruled state, with highest emphasis laid on war and war related activities, Athens priority was encouraging the intellectual and artistic capabilities of its people. In this Athens was always supported by its reformist rulers like Solon and Pericles who believed in wonders of life.

These not only opposite but contradictory views always brought the two states in battlefield. Infact the big war broke out because Pericles, leader of Athens, dreamt beyond his time – of a centrally ruled empire. An idea that later on did become a reality!

In the end Spartans won the war, but they found themselves imprisoned by the culture and heritage of Athens. So in effect this war, that lasted for more than two decades, could not diminish the spirit of Greek people & led to further development and advancement of Greek culture for now both cities were following it.

Legacy of Past

Legacy of Past

Mr. Historian: But again the same question comes up-What made Pericles think that an empire could be centrally governed at a time when no such empire existed? Why and how did the Greek people managed to come up with such novel and untried ideas?

Mr. Socrates: Mr. Historian… I cannot say what Pericles thought of when he talked of centrally governed empire! But your other question as to why only Greeks came up with novel ideas – I will try and answer that.

To understand this, you will have to analyze a number of points starting from the origin of Greek culture. To make it clearer, I’ll start from the beginning.

The country GREECE as it is referred to, was never a continuous stretch of land. Greece was a name given to an area, whose population believed in same concepts and ideas. Greece was made up of a large number of small cities. All isolated from one another by either mountains or by sea. As such no central control was possible. This aspect gave a sense of uniqueness to each city. Also as no help could be obtained from outside world, these cities had to be self sufficient in every manner. This need for self-sufficiency led individuals to believe that every one of them has to make a contribution to the life of society around them.

Infact it was this belief that gave world the concept of equal participation in state affairs or Democracy, as we know it today.

Participatory Democracy

Participatory Democracy

Mr. Historian: You mean, contribution was needed from everyone in a city to maintain self-sufficiency and so principle of participation by everyone came into being, which later on took the form of present day Democracy!

Mr. Socrates: Right, it was us, who gave world the now coveted concept of Democracy.

But at that time it was the need to be independent and self-sufficient, which led the Greeks to produce or make everything on their own. They could not afford to be specialists in one or the other field. This led to an overall development and Greeks became masters in almost every field.

Another reason for our excellence could be our belief in supremacy of man. We were different from others, in this very basic concept. We gave more importance to human being and his life, rather than simply praying to Gods. We believed in the power of man. We knew that man is capable of changing everything around him. This belief of ours led us to question everything and look for better though untried ways and thus everything we did was different from not only our ancestors but our fellow human beings also!!!

Mr. Historian: Thanks Mr. Socrates for giving us some of your valuable time.

I am sure our conversation with you would have shed some light on the Greek Civilization one of the most modern and elite of its time.

We were in conversation with Mr. Socrates.

Mr. Socrates an eminent lawgiver, scientist, philosopher- a genius in many ways. In true sense–Greek spirit personified. He clearly spelt out the thinking and working of Greek people –the nature and bent of their mind. How they believed in power of man and proved it to be supreme. How they turned threats into opportunities, conquered everything that came into their way. Their geographical location taught them to be independent and in the process they mastered every art and profession and thus gave world several Great Men and their masterpieces.

For who can fathom History without

Alexander the great

Herodotus, father of history

Sophocles and his Oedipus Rex, which became the basis of Freudian concept Euclid and his geometric theorems

Pythagoras and his famous Pythagoras theorem

Archimedes and his principle of water displacement

Homer & his Illiad & Odyssey

Pericles and Erectheum, which he built

And the present world without

The Coins

The Olympics

The names—Mesopotamia, Assyria. INDIA too!

The concept of Democracy

All of which were given by GREEKS!!!

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An Oasis

May 23, 2009 1 comment

These following verses are dedicated to the Golden Temple, I wrote them on my way back from Amritsar.

An Oasis

The traffic is buzzing at one end

The cars are running at the other end

The executives are running the time race

The kids are also trying to keep up the pace

In short the life is going past

No one would deny it’s too fast

And in midst of all

I found a place

Where life flows

Where peace stays

Where mind calms

A place where meditation is instant

And connection with God is constant

A place called GOLDEN TEMPLE

The colour of gold symbolizes heart

Full of desires whether its finish or start

And then there is the water

Calm & serene & forever flowing

Similar to our soul which is always glowing

The people may say whatever

But for me it is the Water

Which has soaked in the divinity

And will give the soothing effect till eternity

But as the trend is

It’s a complete package

For the soul & the heart

And it’s worth a visit

If you want your real journey to start…

Categories: Poemz, Travel Tags: , ,

Peace and War – Amritsar

May 23, 2009 3 comments

Once upon a time I went to the sacred city of Amritsar…Here is how when and where of the trip.

Neha, my sister, was going for an official trip to the city of Gurudwaras – Amritsar so me and one of my cousin sisters Tarang hitchhiked with her.

We went on a Friday evening in an eventful train journey. Though we had tickets, but they were not confirmed so the travel agent told us to go back as there was no chance of getting seats. But something was beckoning us & God was supporting us, so we just got in the train & stood by the pantry area (after cajoling the pantry boy!) and waited for someone to not come – praying silently to almighty…

And as they say “when man proposes God disposes “

We didn’t have to wait long & got seats and then it was a blissful journey with enough to eat Indian Railways generous service in Shatabdis. Reached there in night and spent the night in a luxurious hotel room with prompt room service. In the morning we had a not so good breakfast (cold milk bad service dingy dining area…I guess the staff were also night people like me!) with Sudesh Berry (the Mr Serious of romantic soap opera Kashish; recently seen in Left Right Left) & his group of friends.

Anyways we left the hotel & checked in another one (for various reasons) pushed our luggage in a new room & set out for our adventurous trip.

P.S.: Our trips are always adventurous coz we manage to do the normal things in quite abnormal ways. Like on this one we did the first thing last and last thing first. Read on u ll get it

We (from now on its me & Tarang as Neha went to her office) set out and in spite of the Hotel Staff’s attempt to scare us did manage to first find an ATM, then a “Ring” (rikshaw) and then the famous market “Jaman Katra” full of only suit pieces & dress materials.

We bought enough to empty our pockets (& ATM’s) & empty our heads while trying to understand” Thet Punjabi” & explaining what we wanted. But we were successful in both.

With shopping out of the way we had lunch and then we negotiated with a taxi driver and with deal settled on Rs. 300 we set out for the historic “WAGAH Border” – the border between India & Pakistan. We reached there in about 45 minutes and it was after a wait of another 45 minutes that we could finally get a glimpse of the Pakistan Soil.

It’s amazing how a line on paper (map) can divide people!

There were around 500-600 people on our side & a measly 200 odd people on PAK side.

Now I must say they were seated much before than us and were more disciplined or so it seemed. On Indian side, the situation was bad because of 2 reasons – one the number of people was 3 times & then celebrities (read Sunny Deol) VIPs always need more attention.

So we were all herded like unkempt and useless uncountable sheeps & made to run for almost 2kms in the hope of getting better view- only to realize in the end that better places have already been filled in by the VIPs & the families of Defense forces.

Anyways, patient people that we are… we quietly sat down in the stands for women.

From our vantage view, we saw the historic change of Guard ceremony. What actually happens is that the flags of both countries are brought down, folded properly and kept inside. That’s the complete ceremony.

But it has been made much bigger…patriotism has been added so has been some drama and performance… It’s become more like a charade of cheering for our country, clapping endlessly. The scene though repeated every day still holds a novelty and exciting anticipation comparable only to India Pakistan match!

The entire ceremony (experience) is too colorful, charged with patriotism, electrified by the emotions of people on both sides and saddened by the apparent hatred between the 2 erstwhile parts of the same country though they are separated by a small distance of few feet

We have a history – a common one though – to blame. A history which is written at enough places for it to be forgotten or left alone!

Considering I have lived in a place which has quite a large Muslim population and been exposed to various Islamic customs and traditions, the mere sight of our neighbor country made me even more curious to at-least see Pakistan once- to breathe in the air & try & feel the difference if there is any. I do hope I am able to do this some time in this lifetime!

With a heart filled with mixed feelings we came back to Amritsar and straight away went to Golden Temple. (this is what I meant … people first go to temple and then do other things but we…!!!)

Amazingly beautiful peaceful calming meditative solid…there maybe a lack of superlative adjectives in my dictionary but this temple can render anyone speechless.

The entire atmosphere is so calming & so peaceful that we wanted to sit there for long time – which we actually ended up doing. The temple has beautiful colored Meenakari (intricate carving) all over inside ceilings, walls, pillars and every inch of it. It is very well decorated; spick & span clean & is always full of devotees.

It is an experience in its own. We went to the temple twice & each time it looked different but emitted the same rays /vibes of love, soothing calmness & peaceful coexistence.

It was all worth it.

Before leaving Amritsar, we did a quick round of Jalianwala Bagh and the markets around it buying the famous Badiyan & papads (& a few more suits & dupattas)

All in all Amritsar is a city which all should go at least once in life time…Jalianwala Bagh talks of blood, the Wagah Border tells the tale of hatred and wrong politics but above all The Golden Temple which spreads the message of love, care, calmness and peaceful coexistence.

Categories: Travel

Going Home via DND Flyover

May 23, 2009 Leave a comment
Highway all decked up!

Highway all decked up!

Just came back after meeting a friend! Was meeting her after a long while and so while we were catching up on all the gossip the time just flew away. She lives in Lajpat Nagar(LN) and so while coming back I took the DND flyover. For the non-Delhites…DND is the toll road that connects Delhi with NOIDA and though every time one goes through it, a toll has to be paid but it’s worth it. The road is excellent and the traffic is manageable! Anyways, so before u think that I have joined the management of DND or a PR company promoting DND let me come to the point. The point is that the monsoon seems to be here… though it in itself seems to be in two minds…‘to be or not to be’ with the kind of ‘now u see now u don’t drizzling & rain’… but officially pre–monsoon is here!

So just as I was leaving from LN, it was again there…trying to make its presence felt … though very modest but still liberating – the wind…tiny droplets…brightly lit sky…all together quite a performance. It was like a symphony … the clouds making a thunderous rhythmic sound, lightening striking at the end of each stanza and the wind providing the chorus all along!

And if that was enough I saw something else which left me breathless! While driving towards Noida just before the bridge over Yamuna River I looked towards the right side and hello what I see there is multiple rows of lighted twinkling ‘Diyas’… yes Diyas in different colours against a pitch black backdrop … all put together in rows one above the other reminding me of the numerous pictures of the evening Aarti at Haridwar… when several Diyas are lit together and left to find their way in the pious river Ganges! (I haven’t seen it myself and hence the reference is pictures…)

Now you must be wondering what it was that I saw…well the Diyas were nothing but the faint light coming from the flats on the banks of Yamuna… and since these flats are made in symmetry all were showing me their same side with similar kind of bulbs. But believe me they did look like someone had put them there one after the other just as we do at Diwali!

Weather was still cool as I parked my car in front of my house…but I was wondering wouldn’t it have been good if I could have parked my car somewhere on the edge of the flyover and then taken a winding road going down to the shores of the river and also that it wasn’t actually a river rather a sea which could have brought some distant ships to our shores for business and the exotic spices and that would have been the beginning of a new era just like it happened centuries ago!!!

On a more somber note … the authorities can think about developing some area near the river into a picnic spot and open it for public to go and enjoy such good weather. Any open area is always welcome in this city of closed quarters.

Categories: Trivia

In conversation with Socrates

May 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Future ages will wonder at us as the present age wonders at us!!!

A Greek saying written some three thousand years ago, but stands as true as ever. Greek Civilization has left some remarkable imprints of their existence. These are masterpieces and continue to serve as a benchmark level.

Though every civilization leaves some indication of their supremacy in one or the other field, but Greeks has proved their superiority in each and every field. This very peculiarity of Greek People of having mastered every art and profession has given them the status of the most modern and coveted ancient civilization.

Referred to as the creators of modern western civilization, Greek civilization’s uniqueness of concepts, novelty of ideas and dexterity in every art has always been a source of curiosity. How did Greeks get this predisposition of mind, which led them towards great works in varied fields? Why were they the ones to propose novel plans? What were their sources of motivation and inspiration?

These questions have always baffled students of history in particular and public in general.

Mr. Historian professor of Greek Age recently had an interview with Mr. Socrates in which he has tried to find the underlying reasons for masterpieces of GREEK WORLD and throw some more light on the ancient world.

Here are excerpts from this interview

Mr. Historian: History tells us of the ways you chose to deal with the delicate and intricate matters related with justice, love, friendship and duty towards Gods. And in all you have proved to be far ahead of your time- you have surpassed every other person who has ever dealt with such matters in past.

Mr. Socrates: We Greeks have a way of doing things in best possible ways.

Mr. Historian: You are right Mr. Socrates. But this fact in itself is a mystery. How did people of your civilization managed to turn out masterpieces in all most every field?

Mr. Socrates: The answer is very simple—in the Greek view

“Anything worth doing is worth doing well”

It was this belief that has made Greek heritage one of the richest in the world

Mr. Historian: No one can deny that. Everything that can be traced back to Greek World has an aura of importance, uniqueness and creativity around it.

Mr. Socrates: The reason behind this is our unshakeable belief in the worth of individual man. We always believed that a man must be respected not just as an extension of omnipotent lord or God, but should be given his due for being himself.

Mr. Historian: This was one aspect where Greeks differed from their counterparts around the world. For everywhere else in the world, man was considered to be nothing but an instrument of the creator or God.

Mr. Socrates: We differed in a large number of other ways also. Apart from believing in worth of man, another important difference was our belief or rather disbelief in life after death. We did not believe in presence of life after death like most of our fellow beings did. Rather we believed in the life, which we have now .So instead of trying to improve the life after death, we believed in spending energy to make our present life better.

We gave more importance to courage, honour, love and enjoyment of beauties of physical world. This further increased the need to have the best possible means of enjoying the present world and… hence masterpieces you talks about.

Whether it’s the Pythagoras Theorem by Pythagoras, Erectheum by Pericles, Odyssey by Homer, Huge temple of Athena at Parthenon by Phidias, Statue of Aphrodite known as Venus de Milo or other pieces of poetry, handicrafts etc all speak of the dynamic unfaltering Greek Spirit.

Mr. Historian: I cannot agree more with you. And I am sure all will agree with it for where else can we see such display of artistic innovations, scientific discoveries and beautiful pieces of art!

To be continued…

Excerpts for the second and final part of interview with Mr. Socrates…

Mr. Socrates: … the big war broke out because Pericles, leader of Athens, dreamt beyond his time – of a centrally ruled empire. An idea that later on did become a reality!

(the geographical conditions)…led individuals to believe that every one of them has to make a contribution to the life of society around them. And it was this belief that gave world the concept of equal participation in state affairs or Democracy, as we know it today.

Some Coats!!!

May 20, 2009 Leave a comment
  • Focus on your long term goals. Do not be another sheep in the herd….or another shepherd… refer the Alchemist!
  • Be passionate & adaptive in life…or else blame recession!
  • A man is what he thinks about all day long.
  • Our life is what our thoughts make it…u know now so stop blaming others!
  • Nothing can bring you peace but yourself…others  seem to be following it religiously!
  • Your values are what is really important to you and define who you are; the things you are naturally drawn towards to stimulate and fulfill you; the direction you want to go in without anybody telling you.
  • There is a clear relationship between wishful thinking and creativity. You are more likely to have a creative idea when you are wishing then when your thinking is extremely intellectual. Wishes help us deliberately oversimplify.

The most important and the one which I find most difficult to follow is

  • Appearances are important & should be kept!
Categories: Coats and Thots

A Quest…

May 19, 2009 1 comment

To explore has always been a trend,

People just keep trying their unusual stand

What is the need to climb the tallest mountain?

Swim across the longest river

Make love to the most unlovable

Take care of the rudest person available

Are they really self less people

Trying to do some good

Leave some trail behind

Set up some standards

And make it easier for others in line

Or is it really a selfish act

To do some undone thing

And be the one to have gone

Ahead of all, above of all

Be the one to have achieved

What everyone thought would never succeed

And what drives them is nothing

But a Quest…

A quest for being one with the nature

To be the ultimate achiever

Categories: Poemz